REAL NEWS: MORE LEG ROOM PLEASE

If, like me, you normally shower before heading to the airport, you won’t be surprised to know what was one of the ‘most read’ stories around this week.

Three days ago it emerged that UK authorities have apparently banned Emirates airline’s first class cabin ‘shower attendants’ from operating on all UK-bound flights as they are not technically crew members.

So what’s the fascination of this story, and what does it say about our taste in news when we’re bombarded with it from multiple media sources?

Think first who is directly affected by the story, particularly as there’s no suggestion that the ban will extend to people actually taking inflight showers.

Basically we have the airline’s first class cabin shower attendants who work full time on flights to ensure shower facilities are clean. 

But who did the story interest most? The shower attendants? The first class passengers who don’t have time to shower at home or like to have another before landing? 

Or the rest of us who’d like to see the space taken up by the showers used instead for more leg room?

WHY ET (EASY TO) PHONE HOME MAKES SUCH GOOD EXPO SENSE

In PR terms, it’s been a good week for the UAE, with rising Dubai property sales followed by an IMF forecast of faster economic growth driven by Expo 2020.

If there’s one thing that will encourage investors to take the plunge back into real estate, it’s the assurance they get from knowing that many already have.

The news that Dubai property sales in October were the highest since 2008, therefore, can only have been good for investor confidence.

Continuing the positive trend, the IMF has revised its growth forecast for the UAE upwards from a relatively modest above 1 per cent in 2019 to 3 per cent next year.

In between the two announcements came another headline grabber which helps to explain why the best PR is often driven by common sense.

The news that the UAE is likely to unblock the feature which allows calls to be made on WhatsApp was quickly welcomed by observers as a move to help businesses in the UAE, both in terms of costs and easier communication with counterparts from around the world.

The WhatsApp revelation quickly followed an announcement that Expo 2020 Dubai’s ambition to draw 25 million visits through its gates is on track after more than 1,000 authorised ticket resellers had been signed up in key markets around the world.

Combine the two, and you have millions of Expo visitors able to call home cheaply and easily to tell family, friends and business partners what a great experience they’re having, what a splendid city and host Dubai is, and why they’d like to stay.

A brilliant result when you’re looking to attract property and business investment from around the world.

SOME ADVICE BEFORE SOCIAL MEDIA PUTS THE BOOT IN

As supermodel Bella Hadid counts the cost of a social media post that created uproar, the fragile relationship between brands and their ambassadors also comes under the spotlight.

One minute your name and face is up in lights as the inspiration to millions of consumers, the next your image is being hurriedly removed from shopping malls and stores like tins of contaminated salmon.

In a world where the instant wrath of social media followers leads to a rapid corporate trial and guilty verdict, is something missing from the process?

Hadid, a 22-year-old Palestinian-American, was attacked for posting an image seen by some as insulting towards the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Quickly deleted, it showed the model’s boot held in the air near an airport window overlooking airplanes carrying the flags of the two countries.

Her apology, that the post had nothing to do with politics and she’d made an honest, early morning mistake, was barely heard amid the rapidly escalating row.

Dior removed her visuals from shopping malls and stores across the GCC, refusing to confirm whether the decision was terminal but leaving the supermodel out in the cold.

Just days earlier she’d shared a New York Times op-ed on the UAE and Saudi playing a role in Sudan’s military crackdown on demonstrators, later saying it was meant to raise awareness of the country’s humanitarian crisis.

Left to fight his daughter’s corner, real estate developer Mohamed Hadid claims she is the victim of jealous individuals and trolls out to destroy the career of a young, proud Muslim who had been a “champion of Arab causes.”

Was Hadid wrong to put up that airport post on Instagram? Obviously. Did she aim to offend anyone? Almost certainly not. Was her post actually offensive? To some, yes. Were Dior right to distance themselves from her? In the name of sales, surely.

From Dior’s point of view, delaying the guilty verdict would have been an expensive mistake. Wrapping their sympathetic arms around the young lady, with a couple of flags to help, too much of a risk.

Some advice in advance for the luxury brand’s next new face – keep your boots down, stay off social media until you’re awake, and get some professional advice about what you post on Instagram.

HERE’S THE NEWS – OR IS IT?

One of the toughest jobs PR firms often have with clients is making them appreciate what is news, and what isn’t.

Over the years I’ve often started the discussion with the line that news is something new with an ‘s’ on the end.

If the information you’re planning to release is nothing new, don’t expect it to produce good PR when so much information circulates instantly online.

So, if what you want to announce isn’t new, build it into something that is to provide impact and put the service or product you’re selling in front of your audience.

Research can often be the key, providing newsworthy statistics and trends which make an announcement relevant and interesting.

Any story really takes off if it contains elements of human interest, competition or conflict, celebrity involvement or something completely out of the ordinary.

The budget may not run to hiring a Hollywood star to endorse a product on Instagram live while abseiling the world’s tallest building.

But think hard and be creative, like the best storytellers. That’s what the best PR people are.

Why your story must be told during summer

Public Relations works to tell your brand’s story, and tell it all year round.

Slowing down or halting the process during the summer holiday period – as many companies do – hands the initiative to your competitors.

Your PR programme should run consistently during what is traditionally seen as a time when everything slows down, and audiences switch off or go on vacation, particularly in the Middle East.

That’s ignoring the fact that print and broadcast media are still switched on and particularly receptive to good stories at a time when many sources dry up.

Meanwhile, digital media in general and social media platforms in particular don’t shut down for holidays, and consumers certainly don’t switch off, even by the pool or beachside.

Make slow news time your time to capitalise while your competitors nod off in the sun.